Praying the psalms- including the difficult parts

A number of years ago I started reading five psalms and a chapter of Proverbs a day so that I would cycle through them all each month.  I did not read every psalm every month but for a few years it was a great way to become familiar with the psalms.

At first I was shocked.  The ‘nice’ parts that we can use in worship songs are actually a minority of the text.  But I found that all the psalms have relevance to us.  

When we read praise and thanksgiving, we turn it into our own praise.  e.g. Psalm 138

When we read that God has made all things right, we recognise the Kingdom is here but is also ‘not yet,’ so we turn it into prayer for the Kingdom to come in this way in fulness. eg Psalms 103:1-6 and 145:18-20

When we read lament or desperate cries, we turn them into our own lament or prayer for those who are suffering (if you cannot think of anyone, pray for all your persecuted brothers and sisters!).  e.g. Psalm 88

When we read of confusion or disorientation, we turn it into prayer for Jesus to be the centre for ourselves or others, to be oriented around Him.  e.g. Psalms 130 & 131

When we read curses on enemies we know they are descriptive of what people feel and say in extreme circumstances: Jesus calls us to forgive and to bless enemies not curse them, but we turn these passages into prayer for deliverance from demonic forces for ourselves or others.  (See Matt 5:44-45 and Eph 6:12)  David fought literal battles but we fight spiritual ones and the good news is that we don’t even fight, except in prayer, because Jesus has already won at the Cross!

The key is to read the Psalms with the Holy Spirit as our guide and to understand them in the light of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection.  Then we can find that there is a time and a place for praying all the psalms, not just the easy parts.

- Chris Horton
Tagged with

No Comments